This paper reviews data acquisition and signal processing issues relative to producing an amplitude estimate of surface EMG. The paper covers two principle areas. First, methods for reducing noise, artefact and interference in recorded EMG are described. Wherever possible noise should be reduced at the source via appropriate skin preparation, and the use of well designed active electrodes and signal recording instrumentation. Despite these efforts, some noise will always accompany the desired signal, thus signal processing techniques for noise reduction (e.g. band-pass filtering, adaptive noise cancellation filters and filters based on the wavelet transform) are discussed. Second, methods for estimating the amplitude of the EMG are reviewed. Most advanced, high-fidelity methods consist of six sequential stages: noise rejection/filtering, whitening, multiple-channel combination, amplitude demodulation, smoothing and relinearization. Theoretical and experimental research related to each of the above topics is reviewed and the current recommended practices are described.